Finish Line for the Big-M Was in Sight. Guest post by Sarah Bowen Shea

Posted by on Jul 25, 2011 in Early menopause | 4 comments

When writer/author Sarah Bowen Shea first pinged me on Twitter about her post, I was a bit skeptical. I had never had a conversation with her nor had she ever been on my radar. And let’s face it; I get a lot of daily solicitations because of Flashfree and my interest in menopause. However, when I clicked on the link, I discovered that not only did I love her writing, but that I loved her post. Moreover, a lot of you have been asking for posts on early menopause. 

I hope that you’ll show Sarah some love after reading this post and head over to her blog, Another Mother Runner and check it out; if you are interested in running, you may find some gems lurking  in the lines!

Despite being the one behind our sometimes-outrageous TMI Tuesday status updates (hotel sex, anyone?) on our Facebook page and writing the chapter in The Book about peeing, pooping, passing gas, and periods, I’m hesitant to pen this post. It’s about…menopause. My top three excuses? 1. My mom never had “The Talk” with me, so I’ve never been fully comfortable talking about, ahem, menstruation (or lack thereof). 2. There isn’t enough good slang for menopause (let’s rectify that, ladies!). 3. I am not 100% comfortable with being 45 years old…and getting dogged with early onset menopause. (There, I typed it. A first step, right?)

But I’ve decided to broach the topic because several fans have told us they wish we’d talk about it. Here goes: I’ve suspected for several years that early onset menopause  might be coming my way because I had secondary infertility due to elevated FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels. My doc said the two aren’t necessarily linked but they often are. Always a glass-half-full kinda gal, I didn’t dwell or worry—until last summer, when I started bleeding like crazy. If I’d gone swimming in shark-infested waters, I would have been fish-food: Heavy bleeding for a week, then 10 days off, then another heavier-and-longer period, then an 8-day reprieve, then another bleeding session…you get the bloody (literally) picture. Never one to rush in for medical advice, I merely grumbled, contemplated buying stock in Playtex, and fared forward until a good running friend urged me to see my OB/GYN. The doc did some bloodwork and said nothing was wrong except that, well, lookie there, my hormone levels showed I was already in menopause. (Gulp!) But she said menopause was a slippery thing: The real marker was absence of a period for one year.

My rash of periods had stopped by then, late August, so, again, I just kept keeping on, this time free of cooter-plugs. (Sorry: I have to work some bawdy slang into this post, don’t I?!) I’ll admit: I was floored when the doc delivered the, “you’re in menopause” line. It made me feel so…old. While it had been great to get served in bars when I was 19, suddenly seeming older than my real age bummed me out. Moaning about my situation to my pal Molly, she made me see the bright side. At least I hadn’t had to go through years of night sweats, migraines, hot flashes, and thinning hair—I’d taken the express train to menopause without suffering any real symptoms.

I quickly rallied and absent-mindedly kept track of the passing months, waiting for the one-year anniversary of my last period. (Again, a catchy slang phrase is needed here. Bleed-iversary? Red-letter day?) This summer, as it drew nearer, the date felt like a finish line I wanted to reach—yet didn’t want to cross. It would feel so final, and I worried what the lack of estrogen might do to my body. (I’m already convinced it’s why I’ve had so many foot pains and issues this year.) Then, last week, I was like a sprinter who stumbles right before breaking the tape: Yup, you guessed it, I got my period again. (Best response? A dear 41-year-old friend, who always makes me laugh, said, “Our bodies are like old cars—they sputter.”)

Now I’ve hit the reset button. I’m somewhat relieved and, oddly, somewhat disappointed.

About the author

Sarah Bowen Shea is a freelance magazine writer and the co-author of Run Like a Mother (Andrews McMeel, 2010).  She is mother to  3 children (a 9-yo daughter and 5-yo boy-girl twins) and avid runner who has completed seven marathons and countless other races. When she’s not writing, running or mommy-ing, you can find her on her website: or on Facebook tribe: Run Like a Mother: The Book. Sarah and her family live in Portland, Oregon.


  1. 7-25-2011

    Very much enjoyed following your journey here and will travel back to your site for more, Sarah.. And cooter plug is hilarious! You’re right, we do need some positive slang for these events. Maybe an open thread for brainstormling?

  2. 7-25-2011

    Tinu–Thanks for support, Tinu. I think open thread for brainstorming sounds like great idea–I’m just not tech-savvy enough to know how to start such a thread. Suggestions??? Thanks.

    • 7-25-2011

      I admit i haven’t created one. But it *looks like* you just create a regular blog post, then title it “Open Thread for Discussion of *enter topic*” Then in the body you can set the tone of what to say. Perhaps our gracious host LIz would start one for us? Or maybe even host a TwitterChat! I’d definitely go to that.

      • 7-25-2011

        Ladies..I would be happy to assist. However, I hate “cutesie” so as long as it’s not cute, we can move on this.


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